MUSIC FEATURE: Shivon Diana

INTRODUCING SHIVON DIANA FROM ADELAIDE ART-ROCK BAND, 'ATTONBITUS

Alex, Shivon, Michael 

If you think you need to step up your game (or at least have some motivation thrown in your face), then you probably do ‘cause this multi-talented soul had the energy to undertake three diplomas, a bachelor’s degree and currently finishing her honours. Shivon Diana isn’t just well-studied, but also a female multi-instrumentalist, musician, songwriter, live performer and the bassist in Adelaide’s art-rock band Attonbitus. In saying this, Shivon expresses “I always believed that formalised education would be the death of my creativity... but it was the best experience of my life.”

Literally living her life to the fullest; one major part of Shivon’s juggling act is playing bass for Attonbitus. Having formed when studying music at Adelaide University; three individuals were brought together by the power of: art, music, poetry, improv. and passion. Not afraid to get artistic and outspoken, the band explore and engage with their own unique pallet of sounds to convey realistic and relatable issues in life, which is evident throughout their new single ‘Next Time Around’.

Discussing Shivon’s childhood, the pros and cons of a formal education in music, and the release of Attonbitus’ single - this interview is certainly worth a read. So get crackin’ and make sure to have a listen to ‘Next Time Around’ which dropped today!  

Hi Shivon, how has 2018 been treating you?
Amazing so far! I’ve been working the hardest I’ve ever worked in all aspects of my life, I have a community of wonderful people around me and I’m excited about the direction that our band’s heading. Thank you for asking!

Can you share a little bit about yourself?
I’m an Adelaide born, female multi-instrumentalist, musician, songwriter and live performer. I’ve been passionate about music from childhood and found myself playing in touring bands and flying in the middle of mosh pits since the age of thirteen.Professionally, I am a Primary and Secondary school teacher specialising in the areas of Music and Modern Greek. I have graduated from Adelaide University in a diploma of Sound Engineering, Bachelor of Music, Diploma of Greek, a graduate diploma in Education and am currently finishing my Honours in Modern Greek. On the flip side, I enjoy a good laugh and being a nut case!

When did you first start playing bass and do you remember the day you first picked up a musical instrument/decided to create music?
I had been playing music since I was five years old. Apparently at this age, I had visited a hospital with my mother and there happened to be an upright piano there. I was intrigued and started jamming on it. The nurse had noticed and came over to watch. According to the nurse, I was meticulous in my playing despite having no previous experience on piano. In her words, she said to mum: “you have to take her to lessons, she’s got natural talent!” I don’t remember this myself, but this is what mum tells me. Also, my whole family was obsessed with music. My dad, brother, uncles and aunties played countless instruments, including traditional Greek ones. I sunk my teeth into all of them (metaphorically).

Having studied music at the Conservatorium of Music at Adelaide University, (which is evident throughout your songs) why did you choose to undergo a formal education in music and what was it like?
During my high school years, I always believed that formalized education would be the death of my creativity. For me, I thought learning something in an institution would stifle my opportunity to be me, and this mentality drove me away from studying music in high school. But through a series of amazing teachers in other subjects, especially English, my opinions started to change. These teachers exposed me to literature that changed my view of the world, and as I learned more about the way language works, I realised that I started noticing the beauty in words that had previously been ordinary to me. This new insight transferred to my curiosity in music. I realised that I had such a little understanding of music at that stage of my life. As I mentioned earlier, music has always been my passion, and I understood that I would be disserving my passion if I didn’t dedicate myself to learning it properly. In honour of my year twelve English Studies teacher, Mr Claessen, “you have to know the rules to break the rules”. His words inspired me to undergo music education, and it was the best experience of my life.

I’m sure there are pro’s and con’s to studying ‘Music’; what were the ones that affected you most?
Honestly, I can’t say that there was any cons. Every day at University was exciting for me and I had the opportunity to spend all my academic moments with like-minded people.

We would laugh every day, then jam, then laugh, then freak out over some brilliant musical moment in one of our jams, and then cry because no one recorded it. The affect of meeting these people was that I was able to create lifelong friendships, lifelong skills and lifelong memories. Lecturers, teachers and students alike – they all played a big role in shaping the musician I am today. Here I must mention that I met one of my best friends Cate Dyer, who turned out to be a musical partner of mine in countless projects and now I’m lucky enough to call her my sister because she’s marrying my brother in a few months. Also, I was able to develop my craft with the amazing Alexandra Mantis, who was a friend I met in high school and we were lucky enough to study music together at Uni. And last but not least – Attonbitus happened. Just thinking about never going into Music at Uni scares the shit out of me! I wouldn’t have the memories, my new sister and I wouldn’t have Attonbitus. I truly love playing in this band, and can’t imagine life without it.

How have your studies impacted your songwriting and creativity? Do you feel they have helped further your personal growth?
Absolutely. I listen back on the songs I used to write previous to learning music at University and I notice how lacking they are. The ideas were basic, and the songs were very formulaic. Having immersed in music studies exposed me to so many more interesting songwriting avenues and it refined my compositional tastes. I write nothing like I used to - and I’m glad for it!

To me a positive of studying at the Conservatorium of Music is the formation of your band Attonbitus. The three of you have been busy working on a new single ‘Next Time Around’, what was the creative process behind this song?
I remember the moment Michael first showed me the humble ideas for the song and I didn’t really like them. Michael is always so great at taking my blunt feedback on board, and also disregarding it in a way that seems like he’s taking it on board haha! Which is great – because he truly believes in his ideas and has a clear vision for what they can become and his certainty eventually convinces me too. Now I absolutely love the song. We worked together as a band to make it what it is today, and only the three of us will recognise the nuances in the song that we contributed respectively.

Frontman Michael’s vocals are so alluring, do you all collaborate on writing or is he the lyricist?We definitely collaborate as unit when writing the music and compositions but we leave the lyrics and words to Michael. From my understanding, Michael started out as a poet and you can see that through his slam poetry segments at our shows. When I first saw him perform his slam poetry at Uni, I was intrigued by his absolute insanity and recklessness. He would transform into a different character. As the years went on, he kept raising the bar. It could be 8am, we’re all at Uni, the rest of us are still trying to open our eyes and as we sip on a coffee in hand. There would be performances, and Michael would waltz in with a new poem and give a 110% fueled poetic routine. He meant every word he said in his poems and he is the same to this day. So yes, we believe in him and we entrust the poetic themes to him! Alex and I are the rhythmic powerhouse behind the songs. We are so in sync with our rhythmic ideas. We’re also so familiar with each other’s playing styles that we can predict what the other is about play in a jam and we nail the ideas together without saying a word.

The poetry infused lyrics ‘cold on you’ support the underlying message of this song. Can you further the songs meaning and does it hold a connection in your personal lives?
Absolutely. The song resonates with any person who has experienced someone they care about going “cold” on them. I honestly think “the silent treatment” is one of the most manipulative and cruel things someone can do to another person. “Don’t be cold, all I want is love out of my day, don’t be cold, turning back the time”. These cold people make you feel like you’re turning back time as you continually try to entertain their pettiness. Each of us in the band have had at least one experience with someone we’ve cared about doing this to us. The title, Next Time Around, quite literally talks about coming to the realization that you are better than the silent treatment, and that you won’t bother getting an answer out of someone who has turned cold on you but will rather talk to them next time around when they’re ready to be honest with you. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for us to communicate the fact that we’re not here to entertain anyone of the sort any more, and it’s an opportunity for us to unite and shove this realization into the stone cold face of all these people.

How are you feeling in the lead up to the release of ‘Next Time Around’ and the launch show?!Absolutely stoked! I can’t wait to get up on that stage for a special show like this. Next Time Around means so much to us, and having the opportunity to honour the song at its launch is something that I believe hits home with each of us in the band.

What does the future have in store for you and the band?
It’s hard to say, but what I can say is that we’re going to put all our heart, energy and soul into this project because we believe in it wholeheartedly. We absolutely love what we do, and we’re going to take it as far as humanly possible. Watch this space and we hope you join us on our way up.